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Retail sales fall again in March

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Retail sales fall again in March

“Core” retail sales inch up, but still miss expectations.

Retail sales fell 0.3% in March, according to data released by the Commerce Department today. February retail sales were revised slightly upward to show flat growth compared to the originally reported decrease of 0.1%.

Analysts had expected a 0.1% increase in March.

Sales excluding autos, gasoline, building materials and food services - so-called “core retail sales” – inched up 0.1% during the month, which missed analysts’ expectations for a 0.3% increase.

The fairly anemic results for the first three months of the year are sure to bolster concerns about a slowing of the US economy.  After a modest 1.4% growth in US GDP in Q4 of last year, many observers are predicting even less robust growth in Q1, with some estimates coming in as low as 0.2%.  This in spite of what appears to be a tightening labor market.  The increasingly pessimistic outlook for the US economy in 2016 has led the Federal Reserve to hold off on expected interest rate hikes for the time being.

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